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  • Writer's picturePaolo Pironi

Aristotle, “My 3 Rules for Perfect Investor and Client Pitches”

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Aristotle’s perfect sales pitch formula surprisingly works like magic for Startup Leaders - better than the commonplace sales techniques suited for established companies. The article title might not be an exact quote from 2,400 years ago, in case you’re wondering - BUT I assure you that Aristotle’s formula is guaranteed to convince investors, clients, and virtually anybody else to give you their money. Do you want to know more?... I thought so :)

In his “Rhetoric”, Aristotle indicated the 3 elements that any sales pitch must have to be persuasive:

  • Pathos: emotion (because we humans first decide with our gut...)

  • Logos: logic (...and then justify our gut decision using logic)

  • Ethos: character (because “people buy people”, i.e. authentic people we trust)

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Neuroscience is a relatively new addition to the field of business education. The study of the human brain has allowed us to learn more advanced and effective techniques to manage, encourage, collaborate, etc. Or like in this case, it has helped us explain the elements of the perfect sales pitch, which we already knew thanks to Aristotle’s legendary intuition.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” is the best-selling book by Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman. This book leverages neuroscience to illuminate how the biological evolution of our brains dictates what kinds of sales pitches persuade us.

We have “2 brains”, or rather there are 2 main sections of our brain:

- The more ancient part of our brain is responsible for our emotions and allows us to make split-second decisions. It was particularly vital when humans were hunter-gatherers who might need to quickly react to an ambush by a saber-toothed tiger! This is our “fast brain”.

- The newer part of our brain is responsible for our logical thought and allows us to create civilisations and make political, artistic, and scientific progress. It takes more energy and more time to deliver the goods. This is our “slow brain”.

Now is the kicker, ready?

→ Because our “fast brain” requires less energy and is well… faster, we actually use our “fast brain” to make our decisions. Then our “slow brain” spends most of its energy and time to justify the decisions that our “fast brain” already made. Of course, it’s possible that the “slow brain” finds evidence that the “fast brain” was wrong and vetoes the decision to save us from bad consequences. But that’s precisely what the “slow brain” does: it doesn’t decide, it just vets what the “fast brain” has already decided. And our initial decisions rarely change.

From Classical Greece to the Boardroom

Aristotle didn’t study neuroscience, but he was pretty awesome, so he had figured this out already. Let’s dive deeper into his 3 elements of a persuasive sales pitch and how they apply to your startup’s pitches:


How to Sell to Anybody

Startup Leaders have the toughest sell: they need to persuade people to give them lots of money for a product or service or investment opportunity that hasn’t been proven - maybe it hasn’t even been built yet!

That can’t be easy. Until you realise that you are never selling a product or service or investment opportunity anyway. You are selling emotional appeal, logical appeal, and personality appeal. In 2 separate articles, I will cover specific examples of how to incorporate Pathos, Logos, and Ethos to:

- Gain your first paying B2B customers, even if you have no testimonials, no leverage, and no product

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